Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy protein earns Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status

13 May 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a “no objections” letter for the animal-free dairy company Perfect Day’s β-lactoglobulin protein. The letter certifies that the protein has attained Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status.

This whey protein is a flora-based replication of the bovine-based β-lactoglobulin protein. It is made from the fermentation of the genetically modified trichoderma reesei yeast strain. After the yeast ferments, the protein is extracted via the aid of a centrifuge and then combined with water and fat to create a milk-like product for use in dairy products.

Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy protein earns Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status
Photo Courtesy of Smitten Ice Cream

Though GRAS is a voluntary designation for companies to pursue, this status is a milestone for companies with novel ingredients or lab-based formulations that companies want to assure consumers through government backing that there is a reasonable certainty that it won’t cause harm.

According to Perfect Day, “β-lactoglobulin produced by fermentation is identical to commercially available bovine-produced β-lactoglobulin.” By issuing the notification with “no questions,” the FDA is signaling that it agrees with the company’s assessment.

Although this approval took nearly a year for the company to receive, its arrival is no surprise. Last year, Impossible Foods received GRAS status for its soy leghemoglobin that creates the burger’s characteristic “bloody” look. Nor will these two companies likely be the last to receive this status as startups like animal-free egg protein producer Clara Foods look to microbial fermentation for a more sustainable solution to produce animal proteins without the animal.

Now that Perfect Day’s central protein ingredient has its GRAS status, the company will likely look toward expanding its animal-free dairy products. Last December, the California-based company closed a $140 million funding round with the intention of accelerating business growth, ramping up production capacity, and increasing its product portfolio. This funding round brought the company’s total funding to $201.5 million.

However, the company will only be able to expand so far. In the FDA approval letter, the governmental regulatory agency specifically prohibits some uses for the protein. The letter said lab-fermented β-lactoglobulin is “not intended for use in infant formula or in products subject to regulation by the United States Department of Agriculture.”

With infant formula off the table, the company will likely focus on more mainstream dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt and ice cream. Last summer, the company’s first commercial product - animal-free ice cream - appeared on its website. The ice cream came in three flavors: Milky Chocolate, Vanilla Salted Fudge and Vanilla Blackberry Toffee. Despite a $20 per pint price tag, the lab-grown ice cream sold out in 24 hours.

Just this week, Perfect Day announced it teamed up with Silicon Valley’s Smitten Ice Cream to offer $12 pints in four flavors: Brown Sugar Chocolate, Fresh Strawberry, Root Beer Float and Coconut Pecan. Clearly there is interest in the company's animal-free dairy products so whatever the company produces next, will likely also grab consumer attention.

Related news

Exploring different approaches to lactose-free dairy

Exploring different approaches to lactose-free dairy

17 May 2020

Demand for lactose-free dairy is on the rise around the world, and manufacturers have several options available to them to tap into this growing trend.

Read more 
Plant-Based butter: the new star in the dairy aisle

Plant-Based butter: the new star in the dairy aisle

8 May 2020

First, there was meat, then there was milk. Now, butter is shaping up to be the new darling of the plant-based offerings as consumers look toward more sustainable alternatives for their diets.

Read more 
Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

Catered foodservice meals in the UK to have 20% less meat

24 Apr 2020

Public sector caterers serving schools, universities, hospitals and care homes have pledged to reduce the amount of meat served on their menus by 20%. There is simultaneously a focus on reducing overall red meat offerings.

Read more 
Hochdorf reports year of transformation

Hochdorf reports "year of transformation"

26 Mar 2020

2019 was a year of transformation for the Hochdorf Group, it says, caused in particular by acquisitions in recent years that did not develop as hoped.

Read more 
Novozymes launches lactase enzyme

Novozymes launches lactase enzyme

25 Mar 2020

Novozymes is launching Saphera Fiber, a new lactase enzyme to increase the content of fibres while also reducing sugar in fermented and non-fermented dairy products.

Read more 
Fonterra reports upturn for 1H2020

Fonterra reports upturn for 1H2020

20 Mar 2020

Fonterra has announced its 2020 Interim Results, which show the co-operative’s financial performance has improved with increased underlying earnings and reduced debt.

Read more 
Innova: ice cream balance changing

Innova: ice cream balance changing

16 Mar 2020

Pleasure is still the driving force behind ice cream purchases, with consumers naming its taste, the fact that it’s a treat and makes people feel happy as the top three reasons for buying it.

Read more 
FrieslandCampina sees OP rise, revenue decline

FrieslandCampina sees OP rise, revenue decline

3 Mar 2020

For 2019, FrieslandCampina hs reported that operating profit increased by 26.3% to €432 million. Profit rose by 36.9% to €278 million mainly as a result of one-off gains and improved operating profits in Consumer Dairy and Dairy Essentials.

Read more 
Valio to set science-based climate targets

Valio to set science-based climate targets

2 Mar 2020

Valio says it is the first Finnish food company to set climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement

Read more 
Innova: dairy industry also focusing on health and pleasure

Innova: dairy industry also focusing on health and pleasure

27 Feb 2020

The influence of Innova Market Insights Top Ten Trends for 2020 is, it says, clearly apparent in the dairy category, which is facing key challenges in remaining viable amid changing consumer tastes. This is particularly apparent because of the strong ...

Read more